Last year was the first year that Thomas and I hosted Christmas. My family flew out to Charleston to spend the holidays with us in our new house in our new city. We were so excited and a little bit overwhelmed even though I knew my family had put zero pressure or expectations on us. They are the easiest, low-key bunch of people and were just excited we would all be under one roof (a hard feat since we literally live in different corners of the country). But, that didn’t mean it would be a seamless breeze of a week. I know my family and I know that if nothing is planned, it’s much harder to all figure it out together. So Thomas and I spent some time planning an “itinerary” of things to do- from outdoor activities to fun classes and dinners out. Nothing was set in stone, so anything could be changed if we weren’t up for it in the moment, but it was nice to have our days at least somewhat planned out. Instead of sitting around all morning trying to figure out what we were going to do, we already had something on the day’s agenda. Let’s just say it lead to a few less arguments and a lot more fun. So I thought it would be nice if I shared some of the plans we had and the activities we did, with hopes it will give you some ideas of things to do with your families while you’re together this upcoming weekend. One thing that’s important to remember is that it’s not as much about the activity, but more about how you’re spending it and who it’s with!
- Rent Bikes: We love riding our bikes and knew it would be an activity that we could do with the whole family. Since we didn’t have enough for everybody, the day before my family arrived, we went and rented a few more bikes for the week. The weather ended up being beautiful in Charleston and we rode them to coffee in the morning, to the beach during the day and around the neighborhood to watch sunset in the evening. It was definitely one of the best decisions we made!
- Take A Class: I’d heard of a candle making class in Charleston at Candlefish and thought it would be a fun activity to do with the whole family. We all went before dinner one night and had the best time. It was a nice switch-up to our typical evening plans and got us all involved in something we weren’t familiar with. Previously, Thomas and I had taken a byow (bring your own wine) painting class with one of my best friends who was visiting us and we loved the experience of learning something new all together. Try looking up local classes around your area (maybe a cooking class?) to see if any are open and available around the holidays.
- Outdoor Activities: Since we live in a city that’s pretty much beautiful outside all year long, it only makes sense to want to be outdoors. My family is pretty active, so we wanted to have a few ideas organized. Some were easy and could be done at any time on any day, like a walk to a park and going to the beach, while others were more planned out, like kayaking on Shem Creek and taking a boat out fly fishing. The kayaking trip ended up being the group favorite of the week, too!
- Plan Dinners Out: While most of our meals occur at-home, we wanted at least a few options that had us getting out of the house (and pressure off the chef – aka Thomas!). One night we had a more low-key dinner at an Italian restaurant, while another evening we all got dressed up and went somewhere a little bit fancier. It was nice to switch things up!
- Have Games Ready: Our family loves to play games- from monopoly to charades to heads up, cards against humanity, left right center and dominos. We play them all, so we always make sure to have a few around the house to pull out at any time. Even just having a set of playing cards is nice, especially around cocktail hour or after dinner.
- Make A List of Movies: Instead of playing the game “let’s have 8 people try and decide on a movie”, Thomas and I made a list of Christmas classics ready to go. These are crowd pleasers- movies that make you all want to cuddle up on the couch together with hot chocolate and cookies. And that’s exactly what we did.
- Plan Dinners In: To say Thomas is a prepared chef would be an understatement. He is over prepared. A few days before everyone arrived, he planned out all of the “full meals” he would be making. By “full meals”, I mean the ones that were proper dinner or lunches, not casual “eat anything in the kitchen” meals (which are much more common). This was especially helpful in making sure he didn’t spend half of his time going back and forth to the grocery store. It also gave him a chance to tell people what he was planning on making and then adjusting in case anyone was opposed. Again, much easier than starting from scratch and asking everyone “what do you feel like eating?”
What are some of your upcoming plans with your family for the holidays? I’d love to know! We currently have lots of hikes, beach trips and baking on the agenda.